Transportation Summit Provides Updates, Timelines on Road Projects

For most communities, new roads equal new taxes.

Tuscaloosa area officials, however, have decided there’s another way. Earlier this year, the county’s legislative delegation launched a revenue redistribution that will provide an estimated $250 million in road funding without raising existing taxes.

On Monday, many of those same legislators gathered at the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama’s 2nd Annual Transportation Summit to hold a panel discussion with approximately 100 local business leaders on the subject.

Led by Dean McClure of TTL, who is currently serving as the Chamber’s Vice Chair of Infrastructure, panel members Senator Gerald Allen, Alabama State Senate; Representative Bill Poole, Alabama House of Representatives; Judge Hardy McCollum, Tuscaloosa County Commission; Mayor Walt Maddox, City of Tuscaloosa and Mayor Bobby Herndon, City of Northport, discussed current as well as future projects.

By combining two previously existing taxes and directing the funds largely to transportation, education and healthcare, Poole said the delegation has positioned Tuscaloosa for transformative growth – at no additional cost to the taxpayers. “We will now have a reliable revenue stream without raising taxes,” he said.

The combined tax is expected to generate $250 million over 20 years, and the Tuscaloosa County Road Improvement Authority has targeted projects involving Mitt Lary Road, Highways 69 North and South, Martin Luther King Jr./Jack Warner Parkway, McWrights Ferry Road, McFarland Boulevard and Bear Creek Cutoff Road.

Brad Darden, pre-construction engineer for the Alabama Department of Transportation’s Fifth Division, was also on hand for the event, and provided an update on West Central region projects.

ALDOT hopes to have the Highway 82 adaptive signal project let by the summer of 2017. Over five phases, the project will remove outdated traffic signals and install adaptive signals on 82 from Rose Boulevard through Tuscaloosa, finishing south of Skyland Boulevard. The project is also expected to improve access management, and the road will be widened in places, including the Woolsey Finnell Bridge.

Darden also said the Alberta City bridge project is nearing completions, as crews are near to beginning the asphalt approaches to the bridge.

The Transportation Summit was sponsored by WTI Transport, Aramark and TTL.